Ironically, a day or so after my last post about my transition to much more minimalist shoes, I received an email with some tips (from a recent ChiRunning Newsletter) “for avoiding the overuse injuries that can plague minimalist or barefoot runners”! Perfect timing! I’m a competitive older sister so usually sharing isn’t really my thing, but it’s Friday (Friday, Friday) and I’m in a good mood so I thought I’d pass along the words of wisdom. Enjoy!
- Take it slowly and don’t expect to be running your current mileage as you switch from your current shoes to barefoot or minimalist shoes.
- If you’re transitioning to barefoot running, do it on a hard surface or a track and not on grass (contrary to popular opinion). That’s because grass offers such a soft surface that it’s difficult to tell if you’re heel striking. Running on a hard surface will give you immediate form feedback and “force” you to land softly or suffer the pain.
- If you go cold turkey and toss your old shoes in trade for minimalist or barefoot running, start by running very short distance intervals, like 200m or less, just to see how it feels. Then walk for the same amount. This helps toughen your feet without creating as much impact as running. Do this switching back and forth between walking and running as your body allows. The 10% increase rule definitely applies here … start with very short runs and add no more than 10% of an increase in mileage (or time on your feet) in one week.
- Be very cautious if you’re switching to minimalist or barefoot running if your BMI is 25 or higher, as the increase of impact to unprotected feet magnifies significantly if you’re overweight. If your BMI is 30+ you might consider losing some weight before switching to the minimalist approach. Walking in minimalist shoes should be fine, as long as you increase your mileage slowly.
- For at least the first month, do most, if not all, minimalist or barefoot runs on level ground, not on hills. Running uphill places increased stress on your Achilles tendons and running downhills places more impact and stress on your plantar fascia, the soft tissues of the bottoms of your feet, your calves and your shins.
- Make sure you are running with biomechanically correct running form on the first day of your switch to minimalist or barefoot running; shorten your stride, land midfoot or forefoot/midfoot, keep your knees bent and relax your lower legs throughout your stride cycle, and maintain good posture with a gentle forward lean at the ankles. Better yet, sign up for a Chi Running class or contact a local Chi Running certified instructor.
Looking for a new home and planning a wedding shortly after moving to a new city and starting a new job is very stressful and time consuming! I’ll be back with more of my own words early next week! Oh yeah, and I’m training for a marathon too! Sheesh. The plan is to tackle 18 miles this weekend in two runs, 11 on Saturday and 7 on Sunday. Then a full 18 is on the schedule for the following weekend…wowzas! 18 already?!